Thu, 22 Oct 2020

This win required key moments from a lot of guys Mike Spofford

JT from Whitewater, WI

OK. Even though we're only three games in, right now, I'm gobsmacked.

And you're not even British, though if you're wondering about punctuality, this is your reminder the Inbox gets posted a couple of hours later than normal after a night game.

Tom from Vista, CA

You said it was going to be one heck of a show! Such understatement. Was the play of the game accomplished on O or D?

The play of the game in my book was Za'Darius Smith's forced fumble on Taysom Hill. To do that on the next possession after Kamara embarrassed the defense with the long TD and then the offense got stuffed on fourth-and-1? Game-changing play, and while I respect the heck out of Hill and the player he's become, in a weird way it felt like some kind of karma.

Jim from Phillips, WI

Doesn't our awful tackling concern you, and do you have any thoughts about how it might be rectified?

The Packers did not tackle well, but that's Kamara's game and he does that to a lot of defenses. The one play was obviously a full-blown disaster, and that can't happen. Not like that. But I thought in the first two games the defense tackled reasonably well, and to bounce back from that last night showed some character. This defense has flaws, but it has time to work on them and the right mental makeup to do so.

Lucas from Denver, CO

Would you say that the PI penalty against the Saints with 3:43 left in the game was the costliest for NO? It essentially ate 1:43 off the clock.

It looked like an incredibly lazy play by Janoris Jenkins. He looked as though because it was a free play he was just hell-bent on not letting Aaron Rodgers complete it. Whereas if he actually tries to defend it and knocks it away, which he had an opportunity to do, the Packers get a first down on the 10-yard line and their defense still has a decent chance to force the field goal.

Dave from Coloma, MI

What is more surprising? The fact the Bears haven't lost or the fact the Vikings haven't won?

I'm admittedly surprised by both developments, but I'd have to say the Vikings' 0-3 record is most surprising. They got huge games from Cook and Jefferson and still lost. Their defense just does not resemble what it traditionally is. That's the biggest difference with any NFC North club, frankly. On another note, hats off to the Lions for beating the Cardinals at the wire. Broke their long losing streak against everyone's 2020 darling team.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

NFL Countdown did a "Who is worse than their 2-0 record?" segment today. Of course they ragged on the Bears winning ugly. I just watched them rally to beat the Falcons. They aren't getting national respect but are finding a way to win. I seem to recall a team like that last year who went to the NFC Championship. We better watch out.

Indeed, especially since they have the better QB playing now. The Bears undoubtedly got lucky in Week 1, but they hung tough when nothing went right in the second half in Week 2, and then overcame several tough breaks yesterday at Atlanta - two game-changing RTP calls and the TD-INT replay reversal in the end zone. That was a ton to battle back from and they did.

Erick from Vancouver, BC

The Atlanta Falcons are the best-looking 0-3 team in the NFL.

Ain't that the truth. What will the Packers get next Monday night? An angry team? A demoralized one? One that believes in itself or doesn't? They've endured two crushing fourth quarters.

Terri from Williams, AZ

In interviews after Sunday night's game, both Coach LeFleur and Allen Lazard used the term "keeper plays." What does that refer to?

Those are play-action fakes where the QB keeps the ball while on the move. They're also called bootlegs or rollouts, and they were very effective to the tight ends all night. The Saints never seemed to have an answer for them.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Guys, so many things to comment on. Taysom Hill questions aside, I thought the biggest play was the free play that got the Packers on the 1 to close out the game. Did you realize Rodgers was about to call a timeout?

I saw that live when it happened and thought he had called timeout, but the replay showed his hands never actually formed the T. He was just starting to raise them to bring them together. A fortuitous pause, you might say.

Andrew from Sioux Falls, SD

Why wasn't the Z. Smith tackle and forced fumble of T. Hill considered a sack? He tackled the QB behind the line with the ball.

I think the statisticians ruled, correctly in my view, that Hill was a runner more than a drop-back passer on that play, so it's not a sack.

Dan from Grand Rapids, MI

Now that we've won at the Vikings and at the Saints, can you guys tell the NFL it's ok for them to let fans back into the stadiums? (Only kidding of course). But seriously how huge is it to play in those two venues without the home crowd? Rodgers with the hard count on the road is simply unfair.

I wrote after the Vikings game it could be the storyline of this season, and it was my editorial subject again last night. The Packers still have three more indoor road games - Houston, Indy, Detroit. I know everyone wants fans back but credit Rodgers for taking advantage of the circumstances.

Tom from Lancaster, CA

When will we get to have fans back in the stadiums? Florida has opened their state as normal and others are following their lead.

I don't want to speak for Mark Murphy, but my personal opinion is the state of Wisconsin is in such a bad place with the virus I wouldn't anticipate fans at Lambeau anytime soon.

Gary from Manassas Park, VA

Josh Allen gives me serious future A-Rod like vibes. Thoughts?

I'm not going to go that far just yet, but he's an exciting player. After years of searching, the Bills have finally found their quarterback. That game-winning drive, after blowing the huge lead, required several clutch throws.

Dan from Rock Hill, SC

Our defense played well enough to keep the game close. Rodgers and the offense looked like they were just having fun in a sandlot scrimmage. If 12 gets any more comfortable with this offense we could be looking at the best team in football, wire to wire. Do you also see how comfortable this offense looks?

How can you not? If you had told me going into last night the Packers were going to rush for less than 100 yards but still put up 37 points without Davante Adams I'd have said you're crazy. I thought the ground game was going to have to be a bigger factor, but the Packers still made it work.

Estillac from Belem, Brazil

Throwing the red flag only when the game clock was close to zero was very smart! How difficult it is to control so many things in such a fast game?

It takes a clear head and full awareness of the situation. After losing the challenge, it was also an astute play call with 2:04 on the clock to call the play-action pass at the goal line with the Saints selling out to stop the run, because even if it's incomplete, the clock is stopping at two minutes anyway.

William from South Milwaukee, WI

Wes, regarding your response to Mark from Studio City, CA, in my eyes and I'm sure most of the II readers you're no schmuck!

He's no slouch, either. Not even a tremendous slouch.

Bill from Maple Grove, MN

I don't understand why Packer players were standing around the ball on the onside kick waiting to see it go out of bounds. They can fall on the ball before it goes 10 yards.

Sure, but why if you don't have to? Go for the recovery just as it approaches the 10-yard mark (not after it crosses like Atlanta did) but don't make the move too early. I thought they played it rather well.

Jeff from Mesa, AZ

We've seen Randall Cobb catch a kickoff with one leg out of bounds, does the same rule apply on onside kicks? Could Jace Sternberger have touched the ball while standing out of bounds resulting in the same penalty?

A lot of folks have commented on this, and I believe that's true.

Ryan from Bartlett, IL

When was the last time the Packers won a regular-season game in the Superdome?

1995.

Trish from Columbus, OH

There's a Steak 'n' Shake in Lake of the Hills, Ill. That's a lot closer than Indianapolis!

Duly noted. But Wes loves road trips. I might not have a say.

Matthew from Milwaukee, WI

I'm an econ guy, and I find myself thinking about return on investment a lot. The other day, you made a comment about how MVS has already produced more than most WRs drafted in the fifth round. What we've seen out of Jon Runyan and Krys Barnes shows a high ROI in their first games of NFL action. Who are some of your favorite players in Packers history that were either late-round draft picks or UDFAs who returned value in just their first season or two of action?

Looking at draft picks in rounds 5-7 I've covered from this chair who gave the Packers immediate and substantial ROI, my list would be Mason Crosby, Brad Jones, James Starks, Micah Hyde, Sam Barrington, Corey Linsley, JK Scott, Aaron Jones and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Aumed from Moorhead, MN

JK Scott should just consider retirement at this point.

No chortling.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

Out of curiosity, how many of the Chicken Littles from this offseason have written in to eat crow about how well the offense is performing? I'm guessing the number is paltry. (I would have said "poultry," but with the ongoing pandemic I don't want to touch the door handle.)

See my warning above, but this one took so much work I just had to post it.

Doug from Storrs, CT

I've always thought that defense takes more energy to play than offense because the offensive guy has a good idea what's about to happen. If that's true, then I would think that crowd noise would be more helpful for the defense, because they need to be playing with more emotion to overcome the fatigue. Without crowd noise this year, you might expect scoring to be up. Is that the case so far?

Certainly appears to be.

Dan from Des Moines, IA

I would like to tell Gary from Oregon, WI, that Iowa State is a major program. Big XII is a power five conference and we play some of the top 25 teams in the country every year. Allen Lazard will tell you the same thing. He wouldn't change his college experience if he could.

Now if only he could stay on his feet to turn those long passes into touchdowns. I kid, of course. What a game from Lazard. I'm sure Wes didn't mean to overlook that Cyclone slight and I didn't either. I should have caught it while editing.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

"When you catch a ball like that, you get a billionaire to towel your face." - Cris Collinsworth on Aaron wiping Lazard's brow. My favorite commentary of the evening.

If he had carefully dabbed at it, like really meticulously, it would have been even funnier.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

How many touchdowns has Rodgers thrown in his career to undrafted players?

Having watched the TV broadcast, I understand the sentiment (and narrative) behind this, and I was so impressed by the question I did some middle-of-the-night research. Don't hold me to these numbers because I was a bit tired, but I believe it's 36 TD passes in the regular season, five in the postseason. He's thrown TD passes to 12 different undrafted players, led by John Kuhn (with seven, plus three in the playoffs for 10 total) and Geronimo Allison (six). Lazard is now right behind them (five), along with Spencer Havner (four plus one) and Robert Tonyan (four).

Jim from Woodbury, MN

Can 87 use this game as a springboard?

Absolutely, and he should, because the Packers are going to need him.

David from San Antonio, TX

Do you think seeing Ty Summers, Oren Burks, Kingsley Keke, and Billy Winn make meaningful contributions was a harbinger for future depth and success?

I would imagine we'll find out. This win required key moments from a lot of guys.

Saul from Reno, NV

Great game! It seems the D got it together after the missed tackles on Kamara. It takes mental strength to bounce back and not miss a beat. This game showed what the Pack D is made of. P.S. - What do you think the score could have been if both Adams and Thomas were active?

I'm not sure the final would have been much different, honestly. As momentum-turning as Smith's turnover was, the ensuing three-and-out after the go-ahead field goal was just as impressive. The defense made three straight open-field tackles, two on Kamara. That was solid work.

Dennis from Rhinelander, WI

When Mason Crosby kicks the football, it looks so effortless.

Money Mason, and I'm not talking about his contract.

Curtis from Algonquin, IL

Larry McCarren is a treasure to Packer fans. He's a top-notch commentator with an understanding of the game that, with all due respect to his colleagues, only comes from having played at the highest level. I don't know if it's blinding charisma or his passion for football that makes the "Rock Report" the video I look forward to the most every week. To twist this into a question, is there a lab where they grow men like Rock, and do you fully appreciate the privilege of working with him every day?

Absolutely, on the latter. If there were a lab, he wouldn't be the one-of-a-kind man he is.

Lea from Brookline, MA

I think I've been able to enjoy football more this year. Every game I get to watch is one more game than I thought I'd be watching a few months ago. Of course it's more fun that the Pack have been winning, but I'm able to be a little more zen than in past years. Thankful for the players, coaches, officials, staff, and everyone taking precautions to make it possible to bring joy to us all.

Amen.

Joe from Wausau, WI

And that is why we can't get enough of this sport. Chiefs vs. Ravens tonight. Over or under what Packers/Saints put up?

Gambling is illegal in the Inbox. Or at Bushwood. Happy Monday.

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